Sex and Vanity

Kevin Kwan. Doubleday, $26.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-385-54627-0
Kwan follows up his Crazy Rich Asians trilogy with an intoxicating, breezy update of E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View. Lucie Tang Churchill, 19, a privileged “hapa” (she is half Chinese, half WASP) attends her richer friend Isabel’s wedding in Capri. After Lucie meets Isabel’s cousin George Zao, a rich, handsome, Chinese-Australian surfer, she becomes a “bundle of conflicting emotions,” repulsed by her attraction to the “brooding weirdo [who] took himself much too seriously.” Still, they hook up, at risk of jeopardizing Lucie’s reputation as an eligible bride. Four years later, Lucie and George’s paths cross in New York, only now Lucie is engaged to Cecil Pike. However, Lucy can’t get George out of her mind, and she is flummoxed by his kindness. When Lucy, George, and Cecil attend a film screening featuring a sex scene that reminds her of what she did with George in Capri, Lucie doubles down on suppressing her true desires. Kwan exploits the Forster frame for clever references—including Merchant and Ivory—and provides amusing footnotes. Kwan also relishes describing lavish meals and haute couture clothing, as well as Isabel’s decadent wedding and Cecil’s imaginative, over-the-top proposal. There are moments both catty and witty, but this delectable comedy of manners—the literary equivalent of white truffle and caviar pizza—is still pizza. (July)
Reviewed on : 04/28/2020
Release date: 07/14/2020
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 304 pages - 978-0-385-69540-4
Compact Disc - 978-0-593-34091-2
Paperback - 665 pages - 978-0-593-33918-3
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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